Globe Telecom is calling for the amendment of the Local Government Code to expedite issuance of all relevant permits for all telecommunication facilities at the local level.
According to Globe Chief Information & Technology Officer Gil Genio, bureaucratic red tape “causes significant delay in securing various permits from the local government units concerned relating to the construction of telco infrastructure such as cell sites.”
We have repeatedly emphasized that there is no substitute for government support in developing telco infrastructure in the country. We need the government to prioritize and enable the sector to undertake infrastructure builds, not just in the construction of cell sites but also in establishing underground facilities and in facilitating pole attachments,” Genio said.
He reiterated there are not enough cell sites to enable telco operators such as Globe to sufficiently support mobile data growth in the country especially amid clamor for faster internet service. Based on the latest report of TowerXchange, the Philippines only has around 16,300 towers compared with Vietnam’s 70,000 towers.
According to Genio, it takes at least eight months to complete the approval process for the construction of one cell site, involving at least 25 permits. In addition to bureaucratic red tape, the absence of standard fees among local government units also breeds corruption. For instance, tower fees range between P5,000-P200,000 depending on the LGU concerned, he disclosed.
Aside from permitting issues at the local level, uncooperative villages or subdivisions also prevent telco providers from aggressively rolling out telecommunication facilities, Genio said. Close to 30 villages and subdivisions have rejected cell site proposals made by Globe, effectively preventing the company from proceeding with its infrastructure builds. Approval from concerned homeowner associations (HOA) is one of the 25 permits that telecommunication providers need to secure for the construction of one cell site.
According to Genio, most of the villages that have rejected the company’s cell site proposal due to alleged health risks associated with cell site towers. Some of these villages include Forbes Park, Magallanes Village, and Belair Village in Makati, Greenmeadows Village, La Vista, and Greenhills North in Quezon City.
He emphasized, however, that all Globe cell sites have been issued radiation-safety certificates by the Department of Health, proof that radio frequency signals coming from such facilities do not pose any adverse health impact. “At Globe, we ensure that all our facilities adhere to global health standards. The radiation-safety certificates should allay concerns over alleged health hazard that some HOAs are concerned about, he said.
Other villages or subdivisions that rejected the company’s cell site proposal include TS Cruz Subdivision, Fruitville, BF Executive Homes Village, JEE Village, all in Las Pinas City; BF Homes, Merville, South Bay Garden Village all in Paranaque City; Vista Verde in Tanay, Rizal; Concepcion Village, Modesta Village, Loyola Grand Villas, Jaybee Village, St. Mary’s Subdivision, Vista Real Classica Subdivision, and Meteor Homes in Marikina City; Vista Verde Subdivision in Cainta, Rizal; Valle Verde 1 in Pasig; Kings Vill Executive Village in Antipolo, Rizal; Smile CitiHomes Condominium in Quezon City; Thomas Home in Valenzuela City; and Vista Rio Village in Cardona, Rizal.
Currently, Globe has a backlog of 3,000 cell sites amid varying degrees of permitting issues despite aggressive efforts by the company to investment in network facilities. Globe spends close to 30% of its revenues, significantly higher than capital expenses by other operators in the Asian region to fast track improvements on the state of internet in the country.